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Mormons push their agenda in Russia working as English teachers, says church official

A church official said that Mormons conducted activities in the Krasnodar Region as legal entities

KRASNODAR, March 7. /TASS/. Mormons are carrying out religious activities in Russia working as English teachers, a Russian Orthodox Church official Dmitry Kravchenko informed TASS on Thursday.

According to earlier reports, on March 2, Novorossiysk’s Primorsky District Court found two US citizens guilty of violating Russia’s entry and exit rules. They are currently held at a temporary reception center for foreigners in the town of Gulkevichi, waiting to be deported. Foreign media reported on March 5 that the two US citizens had been detained in the Russian city of Novorossiysk. A spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints told an American TV channel that the two were Mormons.

According to Kravchenko, the Krasnodar Region’s diocese is concerned over the presence of Mormons in the area. "They start with English language courses. The guys usually come from the US, they are native speakers, which attracts people, and then after a few classes, they start to insert certain religious themes into their texts," he said.

The church official added that Mormons conduct activities in the Krasnodar Region as legal entities. "There are not many of them [in the region]… But we can’t do anything about it except inform people," the agency’s source added.

According to a representative of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Russia Yuri Kozhokin, the two detained US citizens were not teachers. "They just talked with Russian citizens who came to see them on their own accord. They just talked about various topics unrelated to religion, got to know one another, but they talked to each other in English… I know this from the practices stipulated in the organization’s bylaws," he told reporters on the outcomes of the Krasnodar Regional Court’s session, during which the judge upheld the decision to expel one of the two US citizens from Russia.

The US citizens have no complaints about the conditions of their detention, attorney Sergei Glizuntsa told TASS. "They have no complaints; this is like a dorm of sorts, with ten people in one room with double beds. They are fed three times a day, there are no significant concerns, we’ve managed to give them their things. The conditions of their detention are satisfactory, the staff’s attitude is normal, we visit them every day," the lawyer said.